Anyone who considers Mitt Romney a viable candidate for the Republican nomination ought to read this. (The entire article is worth reading, especially for people who are impressed with the master of flip-flops. It's a dissection, vivisection, really, of Romney's recent editorial critique of the START treaty with Russia.) Now, I recognize that compared to Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty (not to mention Rudy, Newt, and Haley), the mittster is a rocket scientist. Which sort of makes the entire lot of them a pretty pathetic bunch, when you consider this (the first paragraph is from Romney's brilliant essay, the next four from the takedown):
"Similarly, multiple nuclear warheads that are mounted on bombers are effectively not counted. Unlike past treaty restrictions, ICBMs are not prohibited from bombers. This means that Russia is free to mount a nearly unlimited number of ICBMs on bombers—including MIRVs (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) or multiple warheads—without tripping the treaty's limits."
This is where I began to wonder if Romney had fallen prey to someone, perhaps a spy from Sarah Palin's camp, who wanted to make him look like an idiot.
ICBMs are not "mounted on," or loaded inside, bombers. The only nuclear weapons carried by bombers are bombs; that's why they're called bombers. (Many years ago, some B-52s and B-1s were equipped with air-launched cruisemissiles, which flew through the atmosphere, as opposed to intercontinentalballistic missiles, which arc outside the atmosphere. These ALCMs no longer exist, in any case.) Certainly bombers are incapable of carrying MIRVs (which, by the way, are "multiple warheads" loaded onto the tips of missiles).
I think Romney's ghostwriter might have mixed up one of his talking points. New START counts each bomber as if it is carrying just one nuclear bomb, even though it almost certainly carries several. This counting rule was established for practical reasons. A bomber might carry three bombs one day, a dozen the next, with no need to alter its design. There's no way to verify how many it's carrying. So they agreed just to count one bomber as one bomb.
The thing is, this counting rule is to the United States' advantage, not Russia's. We have 113 heavy bombers; they have 77. So, if this is what Romney's ghostwriter meant to take note of, it's not a problem with the treaty, not from the U.S. point of view.
Which is not to say he -- or, for that matter, Sarah Palin -- has no chance of becoming president in 2012. Their supporters are -- how to put it? -- very forgiving.
In the way a wife forgives an abusive husband.